Ireland fall short as Wales power to Cardiff win
Joe Schmidt's side conceded three tries and also have injury concerns over Conor Murray21:55 Friday 10 March 2017, 21:55 10 Mar 2017
Ireland have suffered a 22-9 defeat to Wales in their fourth 2017 Six Nations match.
Joe Schmidt's team got the first score on the board as big hits flew in early on in a frantic start. A high tackle on Robbie Henshaw from Wales' Rhys Webb saw Wayne Barnes award a penalty.
Jonathan Sexton made no mistake to kick Ireland 3-0 in front seven minutes in.
A kick through from Simon Zebo on 14 minutes almost led to a try but Dan Biggar got back to touch down before Robbie Henshaw could get there.
Ireland's Simon Zebo ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Shortly after that, Ireland almost made in-roads towards the try line after a fine break by back row CJ Stander along the left flank. But the Welsh survived as Ireland went from the corner after winning penalty advantage.
In the 18th minute, Paddy Jackson was brought on for Sexton who had sustained an accidental knock to the head from Jonathan Davies' knee.
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton down injured ©INPHO/James Crombie
Two minutes later and Wales got the first try of the contest when George North broke through on the right flank after Wales had attacked through the middle off a set piece to make it 5-3.
However, Leigh Halfpenny failed to make the conversion count to leave two points between the teams.
Ireland retook the lead on 26 minutes after winning a penalty, Jackson converting comfortably to make it 6-5.
Sexton returned to fray after that kick.
Wales' George North celebrates scoring their first try ©INPHO/James Crombie
Three minutes before half time, Ireland suffered a blow as Sexton was sin-binned by Barnes, with the referee deeming that the out-half "clearly killed the ball on the line" as Wales almost got in for a try.
Halfpenny converted the resulting penalty to give Wales a 8-6 lead heading into half time.
Ireland down to 14 for the restart, Murray will need some attention and Sexton off the pitch temporarily. 1st half thoughts? #SixNations— Newstalk Sport (@NewstalkSport) March 10, 2017
Despite concerns over a left arm injury sustained by Conor Murray in the first half, the scrum half started the second '40 nevertheless.
Three minutes after half time, Wales pressed for another try off a line-out and after a driving maul five metres out, North exploited space out on the right to get in for his second try of the night.
Halfpenny converted to leave Wales with a strong 15-6 lead. Directly after that score Murray was replaced by understudy Kieran Marmion of Connacht at No 9.
With momentum in Wales' sails, Sexton then returned to the fray with Ireland looking to overcome a nine point deficit.
Wales' George North scores their second try ©INPHO/James Crombie
As the game ticked past the 50 minute park, Ireland established possession deep in the Wales half as they went through the phases in a bid to find a gap.
It culminated with a penalty on 54 minutes as Ireland kicked to the corner and then built the attacking momentum again.
Sexton kicked a penalty on 56 minutes to reduce the gap to six points.
Biggar almost reestablished that lead with a drop goal attempt which came back off the post.
Ireland are mounting massive pressure now, Wales camped in their own 22 #SixNations— Newstalk Sport (@NewstalkSport) March 10, 2017
Ireland put the pressure on inside the Wales '22 as the game ticked into the final quarter but the Welsh survived the first wave of attack.
The pressure was reapplied with Wales on the back foot and Ireland probing for an opening.
Ireland gained a lineout within striking distance with 12 minutes to with the maul driving forward but Barnes' ultimately awarded a penalty to Wales for obstruction as that attack was stymied.
On 72 minutes, Ireland got the put in to the scrum five metres out but there was relief for Wales as an Irish knock on put an end to that potential platform.
As Ireland tried to break out of their own '22, it backfired with two minutes to go.
Bowe has been only on the field for minutes and is gone again with an injury #SixNations— Newstalk Sport (@NewstalkSport) March 10, 2017
Sexton attempted to kick out but it was charged down and Jamie Roberts powered over for Wales' first try to secure victory.
The conversion put the icing on the cake for Wales as they earned a 22-9 win on home soil.
Ireland will now face England in Dublin in the final weekend of action.
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